Just War

Topics: Laws of war, Taliban, Jus ad bellum Pages: 5 (1602 words) Published: September 17, 2013
War in Afghanistan
Just War theory points out that there can be motives for going to war that do have a moral content, and just war theory claims that war can, under certain conditions, be morally justified. Proportionality is perhaps the most utilitarian of all Just War tenets. It calls upon leaders not to lose their head and engage in costly conflict if there are cheaper (e.g. economic, diplomatic) options available to them. There are three main opponents to the Just War theory: the decision to go to war (jus ad bellum), how war is fought (jus in bello), and how conflict should end (jus post bellum). Jus ad bellum are often due to self-defense, the defense of others from aggressive attack, the protection of innocent people from aggressive regimes, or corrective punishment for aggression past action. All involve the ‘resistance of aggression’, the violation of basic rights by use of armed force. Jus in bello, means justice in war, and has traditionally been concerned with the treatment of the enemy (i.e. there is a distinction between combatants and non-combatants. Only combatants may be targeted). Jus post bellum concerns justice after a war, which includes peace treaties, war crime trials, reconstruction etc. However, theories like Realism say that moral concepts cannot be applied to questions of war (or foreign policy generally) (Patterson). If Hans J. Morgenthau was asked the question whether or not he thought that the war in Afghanistan was a Just war, he would acknowledge that “universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of states” that “they must be filtered through concrete circumstances of time and place”(Morgenthau). Morgenthau would argue that the reason why the United States is at war in Afghanistan is because it has serious national security interests at stake, which cannot be correlated to a question of just war or not just war. Morgenthau would further his point by saying that “the threat of physical violence is an intrinsic element of politics” and that “justice [has] to be done even if the world perish”(Morgenthau). Because Morgenthau assumes that “statesmen think and act in terms of power”(Morgenthau) he will assume that if the U.S. were not fighting the war in Afghanistan the country would turn into a safe haven for al-Qaeda to coordinate terrorist attacks against the U.S. Although al-Qaeda, to a realist like Morgenthau, is not an official actor as a state in this war, yet they have proven to have the military capability and personnel to keep a major power, the U.S, from succeeding. Morgenthau would emphasize that the U.S. fights this crucial war mostly because it fears terrorist attacks from Afghanistan, and therefore it is in the U.S.’s national interest to keep the war going. Morgenthau would insist on armed strength, as he assumes it to be “the most important material factor making for the political power of a nation state”(Morgenthau). The war in Afghanistan enjoyed almost universal approval in the U.S. and internationally. Even though George W. Bush had little to say about the sufferings of the Afghan people under the medieval rule of the Taliban; he even gave Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, the chance to retain power and avoid war by turning over Osama bin Laden. One could think that this is a ‘check mark’ for Just War theory criteria; yet, Michael Doyle would disagree, “we cannot simply blame warfare on the authoritarians…most wars arise out of calculations, misconceptions of interest, misunderstandings, mutual suspicion. However, Doyle would promptly assert that “liberal states are different”(Doyle) than non-liberal states, liberal states are “…peaceful, yet they are also prone to make war”(Doyle). Doyle would articulate this oxymoron by arguing how “liberal wars are only fought for popular, liberal purposes…wars fought to promote freedom, to protect private property, or support liberal allies against non-liberal enemies”(Doyle). The war in Afghanistan, Doyle would state, is a...

Bibliography: Doyle, Michael W. "3." Liberalism and World Politics. London: Allyn and Bacon, 1999. 80-93. Print.
Morgenthau, Hans. "3." Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2005. 56-60. Print.
Patterson, Eric. "Just War in the 21st Century: Reconceptualizing Just War Theory after September 11." International Politics 42.1 (2005): 116-34. Print.
Peterson, V. Spike, and Anne Sisson Runyan. "2." Gender Issues in the New Mellenium. 3rd ed. Boulder: Westview, 2010. 37+. Print.
Wendt, Alexander. "Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics." International Organization 46.02 (1992): 93-117. Print.
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